Plenty of ornate Buddhist symbolism is rife, visible everywhere throughout the country, from the more simple script to the ornate deities and representations of protective spirits painted on the houses. To the significant decoration of the religious buildings, none of these artworks have happened by chance, every colour, every curve has a meaning.
For the sake of clarity: A Dzong is an administrative and religious building containing a monastery and a local council. A monastery is a place where monks are trained. All monasteries contain temples. A temple is a place where people can receive religious instruction.
The cover image is neither, it’s a Chorten
The Punakha Dzong is known as one of the most beautiful in the country, located at the convergence point of the boy and girl river, in front of a hill shaped like a sleeping elephant. An auspicious place foretold in an 8th century propecy by the second Buddha, an integral character in Bhutanese Buddhism.
Built in the 16th century by a Buddhist master it is said to represent the same building structure as heaven. It certainly is a fantastical place, with an amazing setting, long before you reach the footbridge over the river the Dzong commands admiration. The white washed fortified walls, the painted wood work and glistening gold of the roof tops it was a pleasure to have been able to visit.
I have been blessed to visit far off fantastical places where as a child my imagination would run. The Taktsang monastery is one of those places, known as Tigers Nest it is perhaps the singularly most recognisable site in the country.
A significant religious site the monastery is spectacular, not only in location but as a temple complex as well. With cameras banned inside the entire monastery you’ll just need to take my assurance that it is stunning. Well worth the 2 hour hike up through a pine forest, prayer flags festooned across many vantages, flapping in the breeze, the views downhill get better as the monastery gets closer, with the monastery impressive all the way to its door. The steep cliff face descent, majestic waterfall, prayer flags clinging to the cliff face like spiders webs all adding to the majesty.